Three teenage boys from West Springfield High School went to Juvenile Court, Thursday, facing serious felony charges for participating in the practice of "sexting." Initially, all three were charged with distributing child pornography, which carries a potential 20-year prison sentence.
But only one of the three went on trial. The other two took plea-bargain deals.
All of the children involved, the boys who were charged and the girls with whom they had sex, are under the age of 18. But, on several occasions, unbeknownst to the girls, the sex acts with the boys were recorded on cell phones. The videos were then shared among the boys.
Sexting is the practice - common among some teenagers - of sharing salacious pictures, video or text messages on electronic media.
There was quite a stir at Fairfax County's West Springfield High School, in January, when police officers entered the building and arrested a 15 year old boy and two 16 year old boys - all close friends. The three were charged with the very serious felonies of possessing and distributing child pornography. Two have now agreed to plead "no contest" to a lesser charge of unlawful filming.
One of the girls involved is 14 years old. Other girls are older teens. The boys are 15 and 16.
Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Mann cleared the public from the room when the sex tapes were played in court. The two teens who have pleaded-out testified that the consensual sex took place at the boys' homes and in an elementary school parking lot.
One youth said he had to open the car's doors, during sex, "because the car got hot."
One another occasion, according to testimony elicited by the defense, there were three teens in a bed, with the two boys taking turns recording various sex acts with the girl.
All three girls involved testified, one of them weeping.
All three said they were unaware their sexual activities were being recorded.
Juvenile Court Judge Mann called this a "bad day" in his courtroom, but he acquitted the young man of distributing child porn only because there was reasonable doubt the teen hit the "send" button.
That defendant has now been convicted of "unlawful filming", a class six felony with a potential five year prison sentence. The two other boys pleaded "no contest" to the unlawful filming charges.
Juvenile court judges tend to be lenient, and they have great latitude in sentencing, including dismissal of charges and/or placing restrictions on youngsters' behavior.
All three teenage boys will face sentencing in mid-June. They are free pending sentencing, but have been ordered to stay away from the girls involved in the case.